OCALA, FL (WESH/NBC) - A family ice cream shop is getting some unwanted attention after an employee dressed in an old costume that some said resembles a symbol of hate.
A worker at the Ice Cream Family Corner and Sandwiches in Ocala, FL, came across an old ice cream costume in a back closet of the building, and decided to have one of the employees wear the costume and stand on the street corner to advertise the business.
Initially the promotion brought in new business. But owner Jasmine Gonzalez said they noticed business dropped off severely two weeks later.
"Things changed dramatically and we were like 'What is going on?'" she said.
Gonzalez soon learned rumors were flying around town and on Facebook that, to some, the ice cream cone costume resembled that of a Ku Klux Klan member.
"We started hearing people say 'Oh, there's KKK at the Ice Cream Family Corner, don't go there," Gonzalez said.
The controversy attracted plenty of media attention. During the lunch hour Tuesday, there were more reporters and cameras in the shop than there were customers.
But the restaurant owners said they never meant to offend anyone with the outfit.
The family who runs the ice cream shop is from Puerto Rico, and said they didn't even know what the KKK was until the controversy erupted.
"We're not affiliated with none of that," Gonzalez said.
And as for the costume?
"It's going back in the closet," she said. "Nobody's wearing this no more."